English translation #1
This is a translation of the message in Dutch that was blocked from the Dutch Bahai e-list from August 30th onwards.
Click to go the beginning of the page that introduces this text.
Click to go the end of this text in Dutch.
Since Sunday my emails to the berichten list have been rejected, so I have asked JJ to send this email to this list on my behalf.
Thanks to everyone for the responses to my email. When I have access again, I will be able to respond to them.
Thanks for your response PP, you wrote:
“Quite apart from the topic that you want to address, I do not agree with the formulation and tenor of what you say here: “something that is not in the Writings of … BUT ONLY in the letters on behalf of Shoghi Effendi and in the letters of the Universal house of Justice.”
Sorry, my ‘but only’ was not at all intended that way. I intended to say that the texts explicitly about homosexuality are ALL either letters on behalf of Shoghi Effendi or letters from the Universal House of Justice. The various kinds of texts each have their own rules for reading and application. If a group of texts are all letters from Shoghi Effendi, we should apply the same principles to them.
A letter on behalf of Shoghi Effendi says about these letters: “their style [is] certainly not the same, and their authority less” (for context and source see below) – that their authority is less than the authority of what Shoghi Effendi himself wrote.
But what does ‘less’ authority mean? That they are not word for word from Shoghi Effendi is clear, but is their authority therefore just as generally applicable as the words of Shoghi Effendi, or is telling the person who had asked a question what to do, in that situation?
Shoghi Effendi also said that he had no legislative authority. If one says that a letter on behalf of Shoghi Effendi is a rule for all Bahai’s and for always, it is then ‘the law’ on the same level as the words of Baha’u’llah. But can a secretary of Shoghi Effendi have a legislative power, if Shoghi Effendi does not have that power? Could such an application be the intention of Shoghi Effendi?
Letters from the UHJ give us rules to apply, but what the UHJ at one time says, it can also change later. Shoghi Effendi wrote that “flexibility” is one of reasons why we have a UHJ (Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha’u’llah, p. 148). Because the letters of the UHJ are about our current action, and not about the interpretation of the Bahai teachings, we can discuss the various possibilities (such as a future attitude to same-sex marriage), without reducing the authority or dignity of the UHJ. I have written further ideas, supported with quotations, in English here: